Tagged: On the Silliness of Rationalism

model this

“Wittgenstein was insisting that a proposition and that which it describes must have the same ‘logical form’, the same ‘logical multiplicity’. Sraffa made a gesture, familiar to Neapolitans as meaning something like disgust or contempt, of brushing the underneath of his chin with an outward sweep of the finger-tips of one hand. And he asked: ‘What is the logical form of that?'”
(Norman Malcolm, Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir, pp. 58–59)

Faintly recall from student days long ago that N.Malcolm was hard work and unrewarding as a philosopher (trans.: I was a confused and unsatisfactory philosophy student, esp.as far as Anglo-Am Analytical etc goes). But this is a good story, and — whether or not LW drew the correct conclusions at length — Sraffa’s intervention was strong, and Wittgenstein was right to be impressed and unsettled. I’m tempted to argue that music — all music, from Blobby to Boulez — is making much the same gesture to all other intellectual activity: here’s something you can’t do. That might be too strong — other things are always going on in music (including rapprochement, or attempts at same), and of course the various forces and layers never aggregate to a single decisive intent or content anyway — but it’s definitely an element I value in music, and don’t see well grasped in its discussion.

I have measured out my life in unclicked threads

Which is likely to depress me more: a Guardian debate between a scientist and a philosopher, or a Crooked Timber thread on Westerns and John Hughes?

(Truly you can hunt for them yourselves and please keep the answers from me…)

our morals and theirs

His politics is what he does. What he says — his “line” — is merely how he gets his hand on someone’s wallet, or up someone’s skirt. Ideologues and intellectuals — left, right, centre, other — are often (actually not so) strangely boneheaded about this. They’ve invested so much in mastering specific verbal arguments, big technical shibboleth words and metrics, that they can’t bear to cede how very much easier they are to play as a result.

chomolungma’s share

When I first read about Mallory and Irvine years ago — there was a plaque in a church to the latter, and I used to gaze at it as a child — I was fascinated and intrigued by the idea that two people could just vanish off the side of a mountain. The clouds came down, and when they disappeared, the climbers had disappeared too: a ghost story, really.

I’ve read enough about Everest since to get a sense of how unimagineably and breathtakingly vast it is: and now I think what strikes me, really, is that so little does actually vanish. Everything’s still there, of course; but the curious fact is that everything gets seen — it just doesn’t always get reported.

did you once see shelley er plain? (look it up) (<-- comedy meme)

“I’ve just remembered the high point of my career. At the Cities In The Park Festival I was backstage wearing a pinwheel hat (look it up). I was obsessed with pinwheel hats, you see, and had written a piece for Punch about trying to buy a pinwheel hat in New York. As I strolled about, one of De La Soul suddenly gave out an mighty cry and ran up and embraced me. He was, perhaps needless to say, also wearing a pinwheel hat.”

Alternative headline: “I refute it thus” (bah, yes, look that up too).